The Australian parakeet, also known as the budgerigar or budgie, is a type of small parrot native to Australia. Budgerigars in the wild are often 6 to 7 inches long (15.2 to 17.8 centimeters), although domesticated specimens may sometimes be as long as 8.5 inches (21.6 centimeters). Wild Australian parakeets are typically mostly green in color, with yellow faces and yellowish marks on the crown of the head and wings. These birds are commonly kept as pets, however, and the domesticated Australian parakeet is available in a range of colors, including gray, yellow, white, and blue. The Australian parakeet is generally a friendly and sociable type of pet parrot, and one that is relatively easy to care for.
The budgerigar is considered a good small parrot for a pet, but it generally needs a lot of company. These birds tend to live in large flocks in the wild, and captive specimens will usually be happiest when offered the companionship of another member of their species. Persons wishing to keep just one Australian parakeet are generally advised to spend plenty of time playing with and handling it, so that its social bonding needs may be adequately met. When the bird's companionship needs are unfulfilled, it can become ill or depressed, and may pull out its own feathers.
These birds also typically need a lot of exercise, since they can often fly very long distances in the wild. Pet birds should normally be allowed plenty of time out of their cages each day, so that they can get the exercise they need. The exercise room can be bird-proofed by removing open containers of liquid; toxic substances including house plants; and dogs and cats. Fans should generally be switched off for the bird's safety, and any windows should typically be covered to stop the bird flying into them and injuring itself.
The typical Australian parakeet feeds on seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Mango, pomegranate, apple, carrot, and lettuce are all usually good for them. A cuttlefish bone can be provided, ensuring that the bird gets adequate dietary calcium.
The suitable cage size for these birds will vary somewhat depending on how many birds are kept in one cage. A single bird typically needs a cage measuring 20 inches by 12 inches by 18 inches (50.8 x 30.5 x 45.7 centimeters). Two birds should usually be kept in a somewhat larger cage, measuring about 40 inches by 20 inches by 32 inches (101.6 x 50.8 x 81.3 centimeters). These birds will usually bathe daily, and will therefore need a shallow dish of water for both bathing and drinking. The cage should typically be kept partially covered for about 12 to 14 hours each day, allowing the budgie to sleep.